Many diseases are very deceptive. You may never know that you are suffering from an actual ailment or condition. One such condition is known as Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), consisting of a restless feeling in the legs and an urge to move the legs that is beyond control. It is a type of neurological disorder, and more than 12 million Americans are affected by it. The symptoms typically appear when you are in bed trying to fall asleep. It can also present itself in the daytime, especially if you work for prolonged periods in a sitting position. The major symptoms of RLS include tingling, burning, itching, aching, or a feeling of tugging behind the skin in the lower legs. This feeling sometimes moves up to the thighs and can even be experienced in the hands, feet and arms. Although the intensity and duration of RLS differs in every individual, it is disruptive nonetheless. RLS can deprive the patient from sleep, disrupting the resting period. This can cause insomnia that can lead to several mental and physical health problems such as cardiovascular disease if left untreated.
What Causes RLS?
Just like diabetes and blood pressure, RLS patients typically have a family history of the disorder. According to a study published in 2009, the risk of RLS increases if the person is obese and carries excess of weight around his abdomen and waistline. Other researchers have suggested that the abnormalities in the dopamine level, a brain chemical, can cause RLS. There are also numerous other chronic conditions that are associated with this syndrome including Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and kidney failure.
Surgeries and Medications for RLS
Different medications such as benzodiazepines, dopaminergic, or opioids are typically prescribed for patients that suffer from RLS, however they cannot give permanent relief. In most cases the relief is temporary, and the patient again starts feeling the restlessness once the medications are stopped. This can lead to dependency on the drugs, and heavy, prolonged intake of these medicines can affect the quality of life of the patient.
As for surgical procedures, many healthcare providers are of the opinion that RLS is an overrated problem and surgical treatments are not required. Many hey believe that surgery can actually worsen the symptoms.
Five Best Natural Remedies for RLS
Adopting Healthier Habits
Regular habits of drinking alcohol, coffee, or smoking cigarettes can increase the symptoms of RLS. In many patients simply avoiding these three things brings instant relief from the restlessness in the legs. Stress is another key factor, and working too hard can lead to fatigue that increases symptoms. Keeping up with a healthy lifestyle and sleeping regimen helps to keep this syndrome to a minimum. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats to maintain a balanced, healthy diet. In addition, exercising regularly can help to stimulate blood circulation and ease the tingling sensation in the legs. However you should not workout too close to bedtime or else it will disrupt your sleep.
Cold and Hot Therapy
When the leg shows intensive restlessness you can try hot and cold therapy. In this therapy cold and warm compresses are applied alternatively to the legs, which can help soothe the restlessness. Further relief can be obtained by gently massaging your legs with warm oil such as jojoba oil which can help promote blood circulation. After the massage, bathe the legs in warm water to relax and soothe tension.
Daily Vitamin Supplements
Studies have shown that a good balance of magnesium and calcium in the body is necessary for the proper functioning of muscles and nerves. Be sure to eat foods high in these nutrients such as dark leafy greens, whole grains, dairy foods and soybeans. Low level of iron are also responsible for causing RLS. Increasing your iron intake by including foods such as dark green vegetables, seeds, beans and nuts will help to improve your condition. If you’re not getting enough of these important nutrients in your diet, consider taking a multi-vitamin supplement that will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to reduce RLS symptoms.
Stress can be one of the causes behind RLS. You can keep the restlessness at bay by managing your stress using various stress-reducing techniques such as meditation and deep breathing. A good exercise routine and healthy diet also help to reduce stress levels overall. Take a Yoga class twice a week, or go for a 30 minute walk every day. If your job is stressful, take a 5 minute break a few times a day and meditate or stretch. Talk to a professional councilor for more stress relieving strategies if you still cannot manage your stress yourself.
Holistic Medicines & Alternative Therapies
In holistic therapies both the physiological and mental state of a patient is considered, and the medicine is prescribed accordingly. Holistic medicine also helps to improve the overall working of your body, which can lead to reduced RLS symptoms. Alternative therapies are another great option. Therapies such as acupuncture have been used for ages for treating various neural disorders including RLS. Needles are placed at different points in the body to improve blood circulation and heal the affected area. Other alternative treatments such as aromatherapy, massage therapy, and hypnotherapy may also benefit those suffering from RLS.